The Workers’ Party have said that while today’s report which shows that 20% of children in this country have at some time gone to bed hungry is shocking, it comes as no surprise to those working with people living in poverty. The party added that this situation has been caused directly by government policy over the past number of years.
Workers Party spokesperson Mary Diskin said that while greater support for the establishment of breakfast clubs would be welcome it would not address the root cause of the problem which is poverty arising from cuts in pay, social welfare and supports for families.
“Even at the height of the Celtic Tiger era some schools were being forced to set up breakfast clubs for children. However, as is clear from this report, the cuts in recent years, especially cuts in payments to lone parents, child allowance and other vital supports have caused a dramatic increase in this problem. It has been widely recognised that a child who is hungry is more likely to have difficulties learning”, said Ms. Diskin.
“Hopefully this report will prompt action from the government in the area of providing additional funds for breakfast clubs and similar initiatives, but this alone is merely a sticking-plaster solution to the crisis. Poverty is again on the rise and is being seriously exacerbated by government policy and especially the stringent and unbalanced conditions imposed under the EU/IMF deal. Therefore the government must immediately reverse the cuts in income and supports to the most vulnerable in society and place the burden of economic recovery where it properly belongs.”.
“Austerity is not only causing problems for people today but is stacking up problems for the future and particularly impacting on children. If children’s development and learning is set back now it will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are the real victims of this policy and no amount of media opportunities or carefully crafted speeches by government ministers or advisors is going to give them back their lost opportunity in life”, said Mary Diskin
Issued 17th April 2012